- August 18, 1898
- February 24, 1955
- Not Active
Clemente Biondetti (1898-1955) was an Italian racing driver who earned his place in the motorsport history as a record-holder with four wins at the famous Mille Miglia race (1938, 1947, 1948 and 1949). He also added two wins at Targa Florio (1948, 1949) to his account.
In Grand Prix racing, he raced a lot before the World War II but also after the war, despite his late age, recording one start in the Formula 1 World Championship with a hybrid Ferrari-Jaguar car in the 1950 Italian Grand Prix.
Starting a racing career with motorcycles
Born in August 1898 in Budduso, Sardinia, into a working-class family, Biondetti started his racing career with motorcycles in 1923 and then switched to cars in 1927.
His first race-car was Salmson 1100 which he was driving not only in Italy but in the international events, such as Tripoli Grand Prix. In 1929, he made a debut at Mille Miglia, the race which later made him famous.
Podium in the 1931 French Grand Prix
Biondetti switched to Bugatti T35 in 1930 and scored some wins in national events. Good results earned him a place in a Maserati factory team in 1931.
His greatest result was the third place in the French Grand Prix at Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery. At the wheel of the #46 Maserati 26M, which he was sharing with Luigi Parenti, he finished in the third place, seven laps behind race winners Louis Chiron and AchilleVarzi in a Bugatti T51.
Racing with Maserati and Alfa Romeo in Grand Prix events
During the late 1930s, Biondetti was a pretty regular competitor in the AIACR European Championship, the main competition of Grand Prix races in that time. In 1936 and 1937, he raced in a Maserati 6C-34 in three events but recorded DNFs in all four. In the 1937 Italian Grand Prix, he was driving Alfa Romeo 12C-36 for Scuderia Ferrari, recording one more DNF.
In 1938 and 1939, he participated in Grand Prix events with different Alfa Romeo car, finishing best in the fourth place at 1938 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. In that race, he was driving an Alfa Romeo Tipo 316.
First victory at Mille Miglia in 1938
Parallel to Grand Prix events, Biondetti raced in endurance races on the Italian roads. He finished fourth at 1936 Mille Miglia in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900. In 1937, he retired at Mille Miglia in the same car and then, in 1938, the first victory came. In that race, he was driving the #143 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider MM Touring, sharing a car with Aldo Stefani.
In 1938, Biondetti was also third at Coppa Ciano in an Alfa Romeo Tipo 132 and made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B. He was sharing a car with Raymond Sommer. They retired after 219 laps because of an accident. Sommer and Biondetti raced together also at Spa 24 Hours, not finishing the race.
Three consecutive wins at Mille Miglia after the war
Before the World War II stopped all racing activities, Biondetti scored a victory at 1939 Coppa Acerbo and second place at 1940 Tripoli Gran Prix in an Alfa Romeo 158. He was fourth at 1940 Mille Miglia in an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500.
After the war, the 48-year-old Biondetti resumed with racing in 1947 with a fantastic victory at Mille Miglia in the #230 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Berlinetta Touring, sharing a car with Emilio Romano. A year later, he repeated a victory in the #36 Ferrari 166S Coupe Allemano. His co-driver was Giuseppe Navone. The fourth victory came in April 1949, again in a Ferrari. This time, he was driving the #624 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta Touring, sharing a car with Ettore Salani.
Two victories at Targa Florio
In April 1948, a month before his third win at Mille Miglia, Biondetti triumphed at Targa Florio for the first time. He and Igor Troubetzkoy won the race in the #35 Ferrari 166 S Spider Allemano. Biondetti repeated a double triumph in 1949, winning both Targa Florio and Mille Miglia. He and Carlo Benedetti won the Targa Florio in the #344 Ferrari 166 SC.
In 1950, Biondetti switched to Jaguar XK120, recording DNF at Targa Florio and eighth place Mille Miglia.
A one-off attempt in the Formula 1 World Championship
Parallel to his successful participation in road races, Biondetti was developing a Grand Prix career in F1, F2 and Formula Libre races. In 1950, when the Formula 1 World Championship had been established, Biondetti was on the entry list for the Monaco Grand Prix with Maserati 4CLT but didn't start in practice or qualifying.
Four months later, in September 1950, he made F1 World Championship debut in the Italian Grand Prix with the self-built hybrid Ferrari-Jaguar car. It was a Ferrari 166T with Jaguar's 3.4 L6 engine. At the wheel of the #22 car, he was 25th in qualifying and retired in the race after 17 laps with a broken engine.
Cancer interrupted Biondetti's career
Despite his late age, Biondetti wasn't ready for a retirement and he continued to race in the early 1950s, mostly in sports car races, including two more attempts at Le Mans 24h. He retired in both races. In 1951, he raced at Le Mans in a Jaguar XK-120C, sharing a car with Leslie Johnson. In 1953, his Le Mans partner in a Lancia D20 was Jose Froilan Gonzalez.
In other races, his most notable result was the victory at 1952 Messina 10 Hours and second place at 1952 Pescara 12 Hours in a Ferrari 212 MM, victory at 1953 Coppa Della Toscana in a Lancia Aurelia GT and fourth place in his last Mille Miglia in May 1954, in a Ferrari 250 MM Pininfarina.
Cancer interrupted his career and he was forced to retire from racing late in 1954. He died a few months later, in February 1955.